March 11, 2020

Lawson Co-Hosts Congressional Sports Caucus Briefing on Student-Athlete Name, Image and Likeness Rights

WASHINGTON DC – U.S. Rep Al Lawson (FL-05) today co-hosted a Congressional Collegiate Sports Caucus panel discussion and briefing.

“The landscape of college athletics is changing like never before,” said Rep. Lawson, a former college basketball player and coach. “Our goal with the Collegiate Sports Caucus is to bring clarity to the important policy issues facing student-athletes and amateur sports, such as name, image and likeness. It is vital that we have these conversations at the national level as we advocate for responsible and comprehensive legislation.”

Rep. Lawson is a co-chair of the newly formed Congressional Collegiate Sports Caucus, along with U.S. Reps. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.). This was the first meeting of the caucus, which focused on name, image and likeness rights for student-athletes.

The current NCAA model prohibits any student-athlete from profiting off of their own name, image or likeness.

“Access to your own name, image and likeness is a basic civil right,” Rep. Walker said. “For too long, our student-athletes have been denied these rights and denied a voice by the NCAA. I look forward to working with this bipartisan caucus to tackle this injustice by insisting the NCAA to finally follow through on their long-broken promises for change.”

Panelists included former UFL player and author Maurice Clarett, former All-American track & field athlete Tomika Ferguson, Ph.D., and former NFL player and author Robert Turner II, Ph.D.

“We launched this bipartisan caucus to engage on the issues regarding a multi-million dollar industry that impacts nearly every district across the United States and that’s what this event has allowed us to do,” Rep. Davis said. “It was good to hear from the experts on many of the issues, including student-athletes benefiting from their name, image and likeness. As states continue to take up individual legislation on this issue, I think it’s clear that a federal solution is needed to ensure that all universities are following the same rules to level the playing field for student-athletes.”

Rep. Cohen said, “The popularity of college athletics is indisputable in both attention drawn and money generated. Players should receive a share of the profits they help create. Since the states are already at work on some of these issues, it is time for Congress to elevate the nationwide discussions around student-athlete compensation, NCAA eligibility rules and the fairness of penalties as well as concussion injuries. We must also do what we can to prevent the shameful sex scandals like those involving gymnasts at Michigan State, wrestlers at Ohio State and football players at Penn State.”

Advocating for equity in college athletics has been a top priority for Rep. Lawson. Last year, the congressman introduced the NCAA Act of 2019, which would eliminate the “one-and-done” rule, provide medical coverage for sports related injuries, and create an easier process for student-athletes to gain work opportunities while in school.

Last April, Rep. Lawson hosted a panel discussion and movie screening of the LeBron James produced sports documentary, Student Athlete, on Capitol Hill. The conversation tackled the plight of unpaid student-athletes in a multi-billion dollar athletic enterprise. He was joined on the panel by Maverick Carter, CEO of SpringHill Entertainment and UNINTERUPTED; Steve Stoute, executive producer of Student Athlete; Natasha Cloud, player for the WNBA Washington Mystics; and other thought leaders on student-athletes’ rights.